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Rumors multiply. A secret police is formed. Conspiracies—real and imagined—swirl around the rising edifice. The most drastic purges follow. By the time the first stone is laid, Cheops’s subjects are terrified enough to yield to his most murderous whims. Each time one of the massive stones is hoisted into place, dozens of men are crushed, and there are tens of thousands of stones. . . .
Richer and more encompassing than a political fable . . . Like Kafka, Kadare has the gift of writing parables of great weight in the lightest of tones.
Posted March 6, 2012
I can only imagine that the author is attempting some kind of experimental or metaphorical fiction here. Virtually every element of this novel contradicts what we know about ancient Egypt, the Great Pyramid, and its construction. The Pharoah is consistently called by the outmoded, Hellenized version of his name, the old myth about the Great Pyramid being built by slaves rears its head, and the reason given for building the pyramid at all is illogical and absurd. Nor can any of this be explained by the advance of knowledge; this book came out after modern excavations on the Giza plateau disproved all of the old assumptions. Since Kadare chose not to avail himself of modern knowledge of the people who built the Great Pyramid, I have to assume this was some kind of parody. If so, I didn't get it, and didn't like what I read before giving up.
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Posted February 1, 2012
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